Charlie and I were blessed with a visit from our friends from Texas, Linda and Susi. They arrived in Guatemala on July 8th. We took the bus to Guatemala City and then a van to Antigua to meet them. Antigua is west of Guat. City and in the mountains, with the weather being in the high 60's at night, a great relief from the heat of the Rio. Antigua was the colonial capital of Guatemala until an earthquake ruined the city in the 1770s. It sits at the base of an inactive volcano. The traditional dress of the Mayan women in Antigua is quite different from the women of the Rio Dulce area. In Antigua, the women wear wrap around skirts (corte) with traditional shirts (huipil) tied with a sash. Of course , all from woven fabric of amazing colors. In contrast, the women of the Rio wear gathered skirts and lacey shirts. Linda had made reservations for us all at Posada St. Vicente not far off the town central, where a beautiful park is located. The streets are cobblestone and it is difficult to discern one street from the next because all of the store, hotel and restaurant fronts, although very colorful, are very plain . Once you enter the doors, you walk into a new and most often beautiful atmosphere. The girls were not at the hotel when we arrived, but we soon found them, shopping, imagine that! We then went to Frida's for Mexican food and tequila. It was a wonderful evening.
The next day began with a wonderful breakfast at SabeRico y Jardin. It was a beautiful restaurant with tables tucked into garden niches. The food was excellent and we ate there two more times. Antigua is a city that attracts people from many different countries. There were a lot of young adults backpacking. And, of course, many shops for us girls to spend money in. We took a taxi to a working Coffee Plantation and Museum in town and had a great guide (who spoke English) and took us through the grounds and explained the process to us. We met Maria Cristina Orive, one of the members of the family who owned the plantation. She was a delightful and informative woman in her 80's who is a photographer and journalist. We bought her book, Actos de Fe en Guatemala, (Acts of Faith in Guatemala)
. She offered us a ride back to our hotel with her driver, but we had a taxi, and in retrospect we should have ditched him. Oh well, live and learn.
On Wednesday, we set out for Panajachel, on Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is considered to be one of the 10 most beautiful lakes in the world. We took a laucha from Panajachel to San Marcos. There are many villages all around the lake, and we heard that San Marcos had an esoteric vibe. We stayed at the most fabulous hotel any of us had ever been in, Aaculaax. It was beyond description, but I will try. The German owner, being an artist, built it from recycled materials. It had a wonderful garden and the hotel rose up the side of the mountain with each room being unique unto itself. The bathrooms had exposed rock and there were small porches to sit and gaze at the lake and the birds. It was truly magical. Instead of shopping, Charlie got an hour massage, smart boy. Our next day was spent in San Pedro where the road rose steeply up to the city. Thank goodness for the Tuk-Tuks, another form of transportation, that got us up the hill. We purchased some woven material and a few small paintings typical of the region, but had to make our way back to the dock to catch the last launch back to our hotel.
Thursday, we left San Marcos, in a launcha for Panajachel around 4:00pm, then rode in a extremely cramped van to Antigua, getting there around 8:00pm. The next morning, was a tough traveling day as we left Antigua, again in a van to Guatemala City where we waited 3 hours in the bus station and then left for Rio Dulce around 1:00. We got to Rio Dulce after dark and had to find someone to take us down river to Mario's and our boat. We were all tired puppies when we got home, but luckily the cook made us dinner.
We have spent two days resting and laying around the pool, but today we took a short trip by van to Finca Paraiso. On the property of this large farm is a hot spring waterfall, which cascades into a very cold river. Another magical place and we were so glad Susi got the experience as she is leaving for the states tomorrow. Then off to the shores of Lake Izabal for lunch at Don YuYo's. We ended the day trip with a short canoe ride up a river into the Boqueron, 1500' high canyon walls with lush jungle plants. We saw a howler monkey in a tree and many kingfishers up and down the river. What a day! Again, we are so blessed to be in such a beautiful country with such beautiful friends.
More to come! Hasta luego!